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Climate-Smart Agriculture: What is it? Why is it needed


Ghana - In the next 20 years, increasing the productivity and incomes from smallholder crop, livestock, fishery and forestry production systems will be key to achieving global food security. Most of the world’s poor are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture, and experience has shown that growth in agriculture is often the most effective and equitable strategy for reducing poverty and increasing food security.

Climate change multiplies the challenges of achieving the needed growth and improvements in agricultural systems and its effects are already being felt. Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an approach to dealing with these interlinked challenges in a holistic and effective manner. This brief is intended to give an overview of the approach and its main features, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about it.

Climate-smart agriculture is an approach to help guide actions to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively and sustainably support development and food security under a changing climate. “Agriculture” is taken to cover crop and livestock production, and fisheries and forest management. CSA is not a new production system – it is a means of identifying which production systems and enabling institutions are best suited to respond to the challenges of climate change for specific locations, to maintain and enhance the capacity of agriculture to support food security in a sustainable way.

The concept was first launched by FAO in 2010 in a background paper prepared for the Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FAO, Climate-Smart” Agriculture Policies, Practices and Financing for Food Security, Adaptation and Mitigation. 2010), in the context of national food security and development goals, to tackle three main objectives (FAO, Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook. 2013):

  • Sustainably increasing food security by increasing agricultural productivity and incomes;
  • Building resilience and adapting to climate change
  • Developing opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to expected trends